This week, headlines like this one have been splattered across the health section of most news sites. My initial reaction: “Wait, what?” My follow up reaction: “Good grief…”
Since the published study came out in the July 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, there has been a lot of chatter about the subject. The goal of the study was to see if men over the age of 40 who used PDE-5 inhibitors, like Viagra, for erectile dysfunction, have an increased rate of getting sexually transmitted diseases.
The study consisted of more than 1,000,000 men over the age of 40. 30,000 of these men had filled prescriptions for ED meds. The conclusion was hard to debate – it clearly found that ED-medication users had a higher rate (2 to 3 times higher) of STD infection, especially HIV and chlamydia.
Why is this? To be honest, this information sort of baffles me. Just as we have all heard birth-control commercials explain “the pill does not protect you from STDs,” Viagra comes with the same warning. Let’s face it, even if it didn’t have this warning, don’t men in their 40s have some idea how this whole process works?
While I feel that the study is interesting and well conducted, the way it is being portrayed is not entirely fair. Many make it sound like ED drugs actually cause STDs. Here’s the thing, having sex can lead to STDs, Viagra helps men have more satisfying sex lives, men have more sex than they would have without it, therefore men having sex have higher risk of infection. Is this news to anyone? Another part of this equation is that it’s not just married men who are taking Viagra and other ED medications. Many men and women are single in their 40s today and with this new found sexual ability, perhaps caution is thrown out the window somewhere along the way, bringing grown men and women back to the younger years of reckless abandon.
No matter what the reason, I think more than anything, this serves as a wake-up call of sorts. No matter who you are, where you come from, or how old you are – STDs do not discriminate. If you are sexually active at any stage in life, it’s important to remember that just because you are now able to enjoy a healthy sex life, it doesn’t mean all the rules of your younger years don’t still apply.
Does anyone have any thoughts on this?